Recent literature on the diffusion of innovations concentrates either specifically on public adoption of policy, where social or environmental conditions are the dependent variables for adoption, or on private adoption of an innovation, where emphasis is placed on the characteristics of the innovation itself. This article uses both the policy diffusion literature and the diffusion of innovation literature to assess watershed management councils' decisions to adopt, or not adopt, scientific models. Watershed management councils are a relevant case study because they possess both public and private attributes. We report on a survey of councils in the United States that was conducted to determine the criteria used when selecting scientific models for studying watershed conditions. We found that specific variables from each body of literature play a role in explaining the choice to adopt scientific models by these quasi-public organizations. The diffusion of innovation literature contributes to an understanding of how organizations select models by confirming the importance of a model's ability to provide better data. Variables from the policy diffusion literature showed that watershed management councils that employ consultants are more likely to use scientific models. We found a gap between those who create scientific models and those who use these models. We recommend shrinking this gap through more communication between these actors and advancing the need for developers to provide more technical assistance.